You are serving ‘The Lodhi’, one of the renowned places in Delhi as the pastry chef. Please share with us what made you delve into the field of the bakery?
Chef Akbar Ali:- I was born and raised in a family of chefs from the mountainous terrains of Uttarakhand. Since my childhood days, I was an ardent fan of the local bakery products in my native place. From there, I inculcated a passion for baking and decided to become a pastry chef, turning my long-cherished dream into reality.
Please elaborate about your proficiency in artisanal desserts. How different are they from other confectionery items? Tell us about some of your great artisanal creations at The Lodhi Bakery?
Chef Akbar Ali:- With the dynamically evolving market, we have to constantly keep up with the changing preferences of consumers by coming up with innovative artisanal concepts. At The Lodhi Bakery, we offer an extensive variety of artisanal creations like house-made lactose-free bread, high-fibre loafs crafted from local grains, gluten-free pastries, chocolate pralines, macaroons, customized cakes in an array of flavours, and much more.
You hold working experience with ‘Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club’. Please tell us, up to what extent has it helped you in expanding your expertise in the culinary world?
Chef Akbar Ali:- It was an enriching experience to be associated with one of the finest hotels in Dubai, where I got the chance to work with people from different nationalities. It gave me immense scope to learn more and more about food preferences, customs and culture. This exposure groomed and polished me to become a flexible and knowledgeable chef and human being that I am today. Indeed, I owe it to this beautiful oasis in the Middle East.
With 3 decades of experience and expertise with major brands, what has been your ultimate experiment in desserts and bakery till now as a pastry chef?
Chef Akbar Ali:- I am proud to say that with the base of my learnings, I have tried many new and innovative things. It is still very vivid in my memories – whilst working with the Hyatt, I was part of a team that made a spectacular 12-foot high Gingerbread House, for which hundreds of kilos of ingredients were used. And in 2016, we made more than 500 different flavoured cupcakes at The Lodhi. I believe these two events have been my ultimate experiments in the bakery so far.
As you have worked prior in Dubai, please tell us – did you feel any kind of difference in the customer dealing with that of working in India?
Chef Akbar Ali:- There is always a difference in two places. There were things that were great about Dubai, and there are things that are great about Delhi. People here like bold flavours and are always looking for something new and interesting, which helps us push ourselves every day.
Bakeries are always a good place to flaunt your creations on display. So, what importance do beauty and perfection hold in confectionery and bakery items?
Chef Akbar Ali:- Presentation is just as essential to the success of a dessert as its taste. The way the food looks is what tempts your eyes and makes you want to try it. As a chef, you need to balance colour combinations, textures and proportions to create a cohesive final product. But you also need to keep in mind that the flavours you are using enhance or complement each other. Visually, a variety of colours and shapes can look beautiful, but one should be careful not to include too much. Through the balanced use of elements, you can present a dessert elegantly.
As a luxury chef, uniqueness is important every time for the buffet. So, how do you plan your bakery and confectionery items depending on the occasion or events?
Chef Akbar Ali:- It is based on the availability of raw ingredients. When your ingredients are plentiful and fresh, you can find several ways to imaginatively use them. For the dessert section on our buffet, we offer a range of choices like gateaux, pastries, tarts, soufflés, puddings, pies, mousse in miniature shot glasses, etc.
Private event menus are designed by guests, and that gives us an exorbitant opportunity for creativity and uniqueness.
Please give a message to the aspiring chefs who are yet to land in the world of desserts.
Chef Akbar Ali:- Creativity is of utmost importance for me. And dedication and devotion are vital ingredients for aspiring chefs. One needs to be a good student, then only you can learn new things. This is what I strongly believe to date.
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